Escuela del Sol Montessori - Harwood Art Center - Community Report 2019-2021

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community report 2019 - 2021

escuela del sol montessori & harwood art center 1114 7th street nw albuquerque, nm 87102 (505) 242-3033 Image: Escuela Junior High Shared Agreements. Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Austin Madrid, JAK & FLUX. Staff photos by Carmela Chavez Liberman & Elora Daniels. Branding & graphic elements by Ripe Inc. Community report coordinated by Kate Chavez, Carmela Chavez Liberman, Emilie de Angelis, Julia Mandeville & Friedje van Gils. Community report design & layout by Julia Mandeville. Copyright Escuela del Sol Montessori, 2022. All rights reserved.


escuela del sol montessori community report 2019 - 2021 organizational letters from our board of trustees from our founding executive director from our new executive director level & program overviews early childhood elementary junior high harwood art center operations overviews by the numbers: service & impact financial summaries & statements resource & campus stewardship contributors & partners heartbeats: tributes & reflections faculty & staff the nguyen family generative giving the mirza family board & leadership faculty & staff

4 6 8 12 14 16 18 20 24 28 30 10 20 34 36 38 42

“Detailing all the work that is being done and the amazing community of humans contributing to this work fills me with such gratitude. The challenges of the pandemic have invited me to reflect on what Dr. Montessori said, “An education capable of changing the world is no small task. It involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.” It is my privilege to work intergenerationally toward this vision and to hold one space where young people can ask questions, contribute and find their way.” - Tanesia Hale-Jones, junior high level director

“Escuela’s strength has always been its community, both at Escuela and Harwood, and that will continue to be the core of the organization – the passion to build and sustain the school and art community.” - Maria Garcia Geer 4

greetings to our escuela del sol community: As a longtime member of the Escuela del Sol family, I welcome you to this biennial report and reflection of our people, place, and programs. Escuela del Sol is, and always has been, an organization in process. It started a decade before Friedje and her kids came to the little school near the university campus, but it was Friedje’s leadership that has brought the organization to where it is today. When it looked like the school would close because they were losing their space, it was she who stepped in and found a new home at the Yellow House, the mother house of the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd, and then to our current location, followed by the purchase of it. It was by acquiring the building that the organization’s focus on art became very real, and not only through the creation of Harwood Art Center in 1991. It’s a huge generational shift for Friedje to transition away from the role of Executive Director, although I know she’ll continue to be available and connected to the community. She has been the lifeblood of the organization for most of its life. But Escuela’s strength has always been its community, both at Escuela and Harwood, and that will continue to be the core of the organization – the passion to build and sustain the school and art community. At Escuela del Sol, art is not extra-curricular, it is central to our mission and work. Art as a living, breathing part of the curriculum is tremendously important to our students, because it is through creative exploration and expression that children learn to know themselves, discover their passions, and become the creative leaders and innovative thinkers of the future. It teaches each member of the community exactly what the organization itself has always strived for: to continuously be growing. The Harwood Art Center has always been a natural extension of the Montessori philosophy, and as we reflect on its 30 years of existence and service to the community, it is poised to bring even more impact to our artists, our youth, and our city in the years to come. As a board member since 1984, and as the board’s chair for over 20 years, I have been witness to the ebbs and flows of the organization’s growth, and of Friedje’s leadership and guidance. The school has seen ups and downs, heartbreak and rebuilding in my time here. My relationship to Escuela is not as a former parent, nor as an alumna, nor as an artist. What I am is a member of this community that sees and appreciates the value that Escuela del Sol and the Harwood Art Center bring to the world. I have been happy to serve this community for the past several decades, along with other long-standing board members who have helped foster and build the school from the small one-room schoolhouse to the large school and arts community that it is today. On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I thank you for joining us in service to lifelong learning,

maria garcia geer

chair, board of trustees

from our board of trustees

reflections on escuela del sol past & present, 1981 - 2021 I’ll always remember the day we got business cards for Escuela. That seems like a small thing now, but to me it signaled an accomplishment. It was a sign of growth, of stability. Cards designed by professionals, for professionals, it was a big moment! “Be Open to the Possibilities” was the slogan I chose for my card; it became my mantra, a reminder, an inspiration and an intention. Now, some 40 years into the work of providing for and learning from young children, I reflect on the practice of being open and aware of possibilities … and on how it is that possibilities become realities. Escuela del Sol was created through the commitment and work of people coming together to build something they believed in. From a small group of parents wanting to create a loving environment for their children to an evergrowing number of people coming together to promote well-being for people of all ages in the community at large; the work continues – and new possibilities continue to be revealed. I have often marveled at how our mission and our work seems to have a power to draw to it just the right people at the right time. I find it difficult to express just how this seems to happen; there’s kind of a magical feel to it! Over the years, I learned that even the biggest dreams would eventually be realized if we gave those dreams words, if we were able to expressed the visions of what could be. Most importantly, the dreams must always be rooted in service to supporting every individual’s potential and the health and well-being of the community; the desires must always be right. The strong foundation of our school is rooted in generosity, collaboration and trust. With this foundation and goals that remain true to our mission of service, change will come when it is needed and the people who have the heart and the expertise to guide the mission into its fulfillment will come when they are needed. When possibilities are available, we need to be open to accept them and to do the work to bring them to fruition. This is how our school was founded, from a small pre-school to a community that embraces and enables the blossoming of people of all ages. When Escuela first moved to the campus of The Harwood Girls School it was out of desperation; for the second time in its history the school was on the cusp of losing a facility to house its program. By learning about the mission of the owners of that campus, a group called The Global Ministries of the United

“From possibilities to potential, from service, gratitude and community, our organization continues to evolve to meet its limitless capacity.” - Friedje vanGils 6

Methodist Church, we glimpsed a possibility – and sure enough, the generosity and mission-driven commitment of that group enabled Escuela del Sol to purchase the property. Before long Escuela was able to expand our services to toddlers, then elementary aged children. A few years later … 30 years ago … again a possibility was born, enabling us to start the Harwood Art Center to expand our services to people of all ages in the community at large. From possibilities to potential, from service, gratitude, and community our organization continues to evolve to meet its limitless capacity. I’ve known for several years that our organization was on the cusp of important and necessary change. And then came Covid. The global pandemic presented a hurdle; it seemed at times like a killer of dreams. In retrospect, I know it was only an obstacle that brought out the best in our organization and in all of the people of our community. What a great team we became during that time – and what a great, stronger and more resilient community of families, individuals, experts, creatives, educators and dream builders we’ve become! The right people continue to show up at just the right time. And that is how I knew it was time for me to transition to a different role at Escuela del Sol. I’ve told you the story of finding our new Executive Director; it was just a natural development, and a great sign of stability and growth. We now see former students grown up, having families of their own and bringing their children to Escuela. We see the former students becoming teachers, continuing the work of providing care in a child-centered learning environment. And now an alumna of Escuela – Kate Chavez – is exactly the right person to work with the educators, administrators and dream builders of the community to take our organization into the next 50 years. With a very strong leadership team, great expertise and a strong commitment to the work within all parts of the organization, I know this amazing institution is in loving and capable hands. Stay open and accepting of the possibilities, my friends.

friedje vangils

founding head of school & executive director escuela del sol & harwood art center, 1981 - 2021

from our founding executive director

visions of escuela del sol future & forward It is my huge honor to be succeeding Friedje vanGils as the Executive Director of Escuela del Sol Montessori and the Harwood Art Center. As the first, or one of the first, students to attend Escuela from preschool through fifth grade without interruption, and the first alumnus to give a commencement address, I feel deep pride in my roots at Escuela. I remember reading books with Brother Matthias, one of our early champions and benefactors, at the old campus on Mountain Road. I remember the hand-carved gate that someone’s father, yet another Escuela parent giving their gifts to the school, hung into the old campus playground, when it was about as tall as I was. I remember “the new campus,” the beginnings of the Harwood, creating pinhole cameras and developing our photos in the darkroom. The list of memories goes on and on, and that’s the beauty of a place like Escuela del Sol and the Harwood Art Center. Through its 52 years as a school and 30 years as an art center, this organization has touched the lives of thousands of children, families, and community members. That is an incredible legacy to remember and honor as this leadership transition calls us to set our sights on where and how the organization will continue to evolve and serve its community. I’ve also had the privilege of being in the Escuela-Harwood community throughout my adult life as well. I briefly had a studio at the Harwood. I substitute taught in brief sojurns back home from college, grad school, and life in Europe. It was some of those experiences that I came back to that really made me appreciate as an adult what a unique organization Escuela del Sol and the Harwood Art Center is, what was simply my “normal” as a child at school here. As a substitute teacher, I got to see how the teachers worked with the kids, and the difference between Escuela and my experiences in other organizations. I particularly remember one day subbing in one of the Primary rooms, and one student accused another of taking her work. The other one got defensive. Having spent the past 9 months jumping into the fray among fighting children, I quickly got up, ready to intervene. But as I approached, I stopped myself and was able to observe as these children found their own way. After a brief conversation and negotiation, they proceeded to hug each other and happily get to work, completely oblivious to - and not at all needing - my presence or intervention. I thought to myself, “These kids are going to change the world.” I still think that.

“Escuela students have been taught that they can solve their own problems, that they can follow their own passions, and that they can make a difference. And so they do... The world needs that now more than ever!” - Kate Chavez 8

Escuela students and alums are curious, compassionate, and care about the world. They have been taught that they can solve their own problems, that they can follow their own passions, and that they can make a difference. And so they do. And oh my goodness, it’s clear the world needs that now more than ever! This is why I am so passionate about this institution and what it can do –not just for the students who come to the school, but for their parents. For the artists. For the community. And, as we are leaders by example, for the country and, perhaps, the world. This institution puts that vision into beautiful action. This synchronistic, collaborative, and engaged model is rather unique in the world. In our current historical moment, many of us are questioning, “What, exactly, are we doing here? What is my purpose as a human being on this planet? Who are we as a civilization?” It seems so abundantly clear that an institution like Escuela del Sol and its Harwood Art Center is both revolutionary and evolutionary in answering those questions. If, as a society, we know that more conventional models of education are not working, Escuela del Sol and the Harwood show us another way. Part of my vision as Executive Director is to build an endowment that allows the school to be accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, supporting an equitable society. I want to ensure teachers can be paid as the committed, intrepid professionals they are, and to help Escuela del Sol and the Harwood continue to show the world just how good and just community-engaged, visionary, and fun education and art for social justice and change can be. In other words, to continue the incredible work of Friedje vanGils, our dedicated and long-standing board members, our generations of parents who have given to the school in ways large and small, our thriving community of artists, our incredible educators and the city that we aim to serve. This is a beautiful moment to be looking forward to the next hundred years of Escuela del Sol, and I am thrilled and honored to be here with you, our amazing community.

kate chavez

executive director, escuela del sol & harwood art center, 2021 - present

from our new executive director

the heartbeats of escuela del sol


our visionary faculty & staff

meet our teams at &

“Escuela and Harwood are deeply rooted in community, both in action and in vision. They are a resource to community as well as a creator of opportunities for community members to contribute.” - Seemi Mirza, Board of Trustees

Toddler Guides

Shaina Brinkman Adriana Chavez Culp Jolie Guiney Fletcher Leslie Mendoza-Morales Sandra Munoz-Puga Rhian Small

Primary Guides

Monica Chavez Joslynn DeHerrera Nicole Duran Elizabeth Harris Shardae LeDouix Maria Mendoza-Morales Colette Village Center Gretchen Vogelsberg

overview letter by dana mccabe level director


level letters: toddler & primary

18 months through 6 years old

It is hard to put into words the level of gratitude I feel for our community: Parents, students, our studio artists and staff. It took all of our community members to keep us open and safe during the pandemic. Each of you made sacrifices so the children in our school could be together to learn, play, and grow. What we did together wasn’t easy. But each time I watched children playing or observed the marvelous moments of discovery that come from working with the Montessori materials, I wanted to simply say, “Thank you.” Last year we were called upon to return physically to the classroom, welcoming our students back to in-person learning; it was a time filled with wonder and discoveries. As Montessori educators, we had to creatively shape classrooms that allowed the children to be physically present while following some complicated Covid protocols to stay safe. Rooms had to be opened up and outdoor classroom areas created; we needed to create space, do health screenings, increase cleaning procedures and help our students get used to face masks. We were astonished by what could be done, and we learned we are more skillful at designing environments than we ever believed. Moving forward, we will continue to use the lessons learned from working during a pandemic. This experience confirmed that connections and relationships are the most important, and that will inform how we support each other and the children in our community. As I return to my “other job,” that of teacher coach and support as Level Director, I am elated to observe how joyful this year has been. The people who work in the classrooms and spend time with the children in our school are inspiring to me. Each day I feel honored to work with talented people who are so in tune with the needs of the children and have worked what can only be described as “magic.” It has been challenging for some children to return to a school environment or leave their parents and home for the first time. We can see the new uncertainties the children feel. Our teachers stepped up and are able to meet the needs of the children and their families perfectly. As the school continues to recover from the disquieting time we all lived through, we are implementing ideas to continue the growth of the Early Childhood community. Our immediate goal is to fill all four primary classrooms with families committed to the entire Montessori program offered at Escuela: from early childhood through junior high school. Our Master Plan includes the creation of an infant community to better serve the greater community’s needs. At the heart of it all lies a commitment to supporting the pedagogical infrastructure through further strengthening of our coaching and professional development opportunities. Escuela del Sol has formalized the leadership structure of our school, in this way enabling a more robust support system for teachers. Our teachers need support that is relevant to the new challenges they face as they continue to show up, to put themselves on the line and to do their very best to meet the developing needs of our students. While we all learn to live with new health concerns, we recognize that our community is robust and resilient, our leadership is strong and our teachers as dedicated and committed to their work as ever. Our whole Escuela community, each parent, teacher, relative and friend has to come together in a collaborative effort to support our young children.

from our early childhood classrooms

level letters: junior el & senior el grades one through six

In August of 2021 I was able to do the first full classroom observation in well over a year. It was delightful, to say the least, and prompted me to reflect on the months that have passed since I was last observing on a weekly basis. Observation is a foundational component of what we do; it was a key tool used by Dr. Montessori as she sought to better understand human development. When we simply observe, when we can watch without assuming we know exactly what we’re seeing, the insights gained and dynamics illuminated are humbling. And this is why we observe: to get out of our own way and create opportunities for the children to show us what we need to see. When I am doing an observation, not only am I more likely to see something particularly interesting, I also have a different kind of head space to wonder and question and even generate ideas. Last year, because of Covid, we maintained separate pods and only specific adults spent time indoors with their “pod” of students. This meant no indoor classroom observations and no movement of children between classrooms. Pods were also intentionally kept small. I had always understood the theoretical reasons Montessori Elementary classes should be larger, and last year gave us all a real-life look at the disadvantages of small classes. Work begets work and curiosity is contagious! And a larger social group supports the whole and dynamic development of children as they learn how to be in community, sharing space and resources. Smaller classes also create conditions for children to become increasingly dependent on the adults, rather than fostering the independence and interdependence you typically see in Montessori classrooms.

Elementary Guides Ramon Chavez Sandra Munoz-Puga Megan Peralta-Silva Cristina Sessa Paloma Springer Ben Tobias Inga Tomlinson Sharayah Williams


In the first few months of school I could already see the richness of even slightly larger classes and increased student movement around campus. Sr. El students started helping out on the Toddler playground and began learning how to be reading buddies for Jr. El students, something that would continue throughout the entire semester. When I sit in a classroom and observe the interactions and connections, I feel hopeful and inspired. As I walk around campus and see joyful, engaged children I am filled with gratitude. In June of 2020 Escuela reopened and has been providing safe, dynamic learning environments rich with developing friendships and human connection. This has only been possible because of collaboration, care, and determination on all our parts. Thank you. Challenges continue to present themselves, and I continue to be uplifted and inspired by the Escuela community. I know we will come out of this pandemic stronger and wiser, with even more resolve to support healthy children and families, contributing to a better future for all.

overview letter by sarah louderbough level director

from our elementary classrooms

Junior High Guides Tanesia Hale-Jones Jordan Hines

Studio Arts Guides (all levels)

Christy Cook Casey Mraz Jonathan Parks Emily Schuyler

overview letter by tanesia hale-jones level director


level letters: junior high

grades seven through nine

I am sitting here listening to the adolescents learn a song from “The Backyardigans;” each of them attempting to learn an instrument they’ve not played before. Fingers already aching from the work of pressing strings. Figuring out who can teach them to tune a Ukulele. Who will sing the high part? When will we play the song, a song that was sung while backpacking through the Pecos as a diversion from the ache in our legs. A song they decided the youngest members of the Escuela community would love when they record and play it. As they transition to teaching one another “Riptide,” I am reflecting on how good it feels to be back in the Jr. High House! The mornings we gather to plan our days and then head out to the farm to pull weeds (the elm sprouts are wild), prep the chicken coop for a new flock, restart the compost bins and determine the best pathways to navigate through the farm. Being back in The House marks such an important transition. Still working to keep our community safe, we wash hands often and have learned how to sew face coverings. At the end of last year, the graduates reflected in their final thoughts, the importance of community, and community care as the way to survive together. Together, again, we have each day to care for one another: students are back in the kitchen planning meals, and budgeting for snacks and ingredients to prepare food for the community. The students are once again actively studying and sharing information about a variety of topics that will include study and work projects on classical Maya, Empire of Mali, World Religions and Latin American Revolutions in the 20th Century, as well as chickens (their history and the study of care required to maintain a flock), astronomy, compost with a special focus on vermiculture, and botany. The Jr. High teaching team now includes Jonathan Parks, who is supporting farming, gardening and landscape design as well as woodworking and math projects; Jordan Hines (a new Escuela hire!), who is working with students in the kitchen to prepare meals, supporting all study and work projects. Christy Cook, who has been an integral part of the Jr. High since its inception, is teaching music this year as well as creating (with student input) a rich self-expression curriculum that includes collaboration with local artists and ABQ community members, engagement with Escuela community. Look for “Steve’s Treasure Haul” in the courtyard: a “give one-take one” art gallery, and a colorful mural that plays with color theory on the Jr. High farm/wood shop. Emily Schyuler is working collaboratively to deliver Spanish lessons that tie in study and work projects, math concepts, Seminar and lots of creative expression! Adolescents have such a profound sensitivity for creativity and creative expression and it is one of the most beautiful ways that they learn to arrive in themselves and to understand their identities fully! Detailing all the work that is being done and the amazing community of humans contributing to this work fills me with such gratitude. The challenges of the pandemic have invited me to reflect on what Dr. Montessori said, “An education capable of changing the world is no small task. It involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.” It is my privilege to work intergenerationally toward this vision and to hold one space where young people can ask questions, contribute and find their way.

from our adolescent classrooms

level letters: harwood art center all ages, intergenerational

Harwood Cooperative Leadership Team Helen Atkins

Associate Director of Opportunity

E. Dani Belvin

Director of Education

Jordyn Bernicke

Associate Director of Engagement

Jennifer DePaolo

Director of Outreach

Julia Mandeville

Chief Programs Officer

Public Programs Apprenticeship for Art & Social Justice Art School Artist Studios Creative Roots Galleries & Exhibitions Summer Art Camp Residency for Art & Social Justice Root & Bloom Learn More At


For all that has changed since our last report, it is beautiful to reflect on how resiliently our community continues to bloom. Art invites us to imagine and make real what doesn’t yet exist, for ourselves and for our societies. Creative expression re/generates our lived experience – and thus our abilities to learn, engage, and show up in the world with a sense of meaning. For 30 years, Harwood Art Center has offered individuals, youth, and families a safe and supportive home for these explorations. Over the last two, we’ve reconceived how we steward sanctuary and nurture spirits for those we serve. In March 2020, just days after Encompass drew thousands of people to our largest annual community celebration at 7th & Mountain, Harwood closed our physical doors for the first time since they’d opened in 1991. We hoped it would be a matter of weeks, but – of course – it would ultimately mark the beginning of a long reorientation of proximity and relationship. Early on and throughout the pandemics, we prioritized use of the Harwood building for our 39 Studio Artists, whose livelihoods rely on these specialized workspaces. Our core staff moved to work remotely and pivot all of our other public program offerings to distance and/or virtual platforms. We reinforced every program through the lenses of greatest benefit to artists and to public; highest best use of resources; and most meaningful invitations for participants to feel nourished, inspired, and hopefully liberated by their experiences. We distilled our portfolio – shaped over decades of refinement by different staff, artists, and teams – into four major containers: Opportunity, Education, Outreach, and Engagement. We repurposed and reorganized our available resources accordingly, and we sought new and relief grants, to sustain the broadest reach and build new modes of new access across the state. At every turn, our collaborating artists remained in leadership, design, and co-creation. Thanks to a generous constellation of funding partners (p.32), all of our collaborating artists received material and financial support for their work *and* all of our programs were offered to the public openly and freely. Our teaching artists envisioned immersive classes and bridged curricula over digital divides, into daily lives. Our exhibiting artists staged expansive shows and translated beyond the bounds of our gallery walls Downtown. Our apprentice artists installed largescale sculptures and transformed landscapes with our neighbors in Mesa Verde Park. Hundreds of youth, families, and adults participated in our ongoing arts education offerings, and thousands of people engaged in our immersive multimedia workshops and digital exhibitions, from all around New Mexico. Across these spaces and the individuals who weave them, we witness shared devotion to re/generating in the face of destruction, centering compassion in the face of fear, and cultivating connection in the face of division. Our organization promises that creativity is the seed of change. It is astonishing to behold in action, and we are so grateful to be partners in purpose.

overview letter by julia mandeville

chief programs officer

from our public classrooms

Image: Zahra Marwan, Another Day In Albuquerque, Commissioned for Root & Bloom by Harwood Art Center


the heartbeats of escuela del sol

family letters: linh & kristina nguyen

alumni parents & collaborative thought partners Our story with Escuela del Sol began just like lots of families, in the Toddler Community. But the truth is that we didn’t really choose a Montessori education for Katharine - she chose it for herself. The first time she set foot in the classroom, it seemed that she knew it was designed for her and she knew exactly how to navigate it. The universe blessed us with a creative thinker, artist, and maker; so moving seamlessly between Escuela and the Harwood for learning, art making, and community was central to how she developed. And so it continued as she grew and learned and wove herself into the world. Even when a job opportunity took us away from New Mexico, our regular trips back always included Katharine going back to Escuela and the Harwood. When Jr. High launched, it seemed entirely natural that Katharine would ask us if she could come back to complete the journey she started. Once again she chose. And knowing her and this community, we came back so she can finish her Jedi training. Our commitment to Escuela-Harwood has never been just about Kat’s experience, however. Many schools talk about being student-centered, but we know what that really means because of our experience in this community. Our future depends on children who are given the chance to grow into themselves with confidence and clarity and to engage with their communities; and it also depends on adults continuing to explore their own creativity, expression, and commitment to the planet we share. Escuela and the Harwood feel like home to all three of us. We are grateful for and will always be a part of this community.

“Our future depends on children who are given the chance to grow into themselves with confidence and clarity and to engage with their communities; and it also depends on adults continuing to explore their own creativity, expression, and commitment to the planet we share.” - Linh & Kristina Nguyen from our community partners

Escuela Cooperative Leadership Team Kate Chavez

Executive Director

Carmela Chavez Liberman Media & Communications

Elora Daniels

by the numbers: escuela del sol

55 years of service & impact

Administrative Coordinator

Tanesia Hale-Jones

Level Director - Junior High

Sarah Louderbough

Level Director - Elementary

Elizabeth Marcilla

Administrative Director

Jodie Martinez

Business Manager

Dana McCabe

1968 54 1,500+ 144 27 18 33 4

Level Director - Early Childhood

Robin Soliz

Administrative Assistant

Friedje vanGils

Former Executive Director & Head of School


Years Operating Alumni Students Current Students Current Faculty Year Average Faculty Tenure Earth Day Parades in School’s History Campuses in School’s History: Linn Street (7 years) Vassar Street (5 years) Brothers of the Good Shepherd Mother House in Old Town (6 years) 7th Street (37 years) Year 7th Street Campus Purchased

hundreds Parents Who Helped Renovate 7th Street Campus

109 72 $3.2m


Year Founded

Families Who Contributed to Campus Seed Fund Percentage of Budget Devoted to Staff Compensation Annual Operating Budget (2021-2022)

from our school program

Harwood Cooperative Leadership Team Helen Atkins

Associate Director of Opportunity

E. Dani Belvin

Director of Education

Jordyn Bernicke

Associate Director of Engagement

Jennifer DePaolo

Director of Outreach

Julia Mandeville

Chief Programs Officer

Image: Lynnette Haozous, Carrier of Life, Commissioned for Encompass by Harwood Art Center

by the numbers: harwood art center 30 years of service & impact

1991 30 4

Year Founded Years Operating Current Public Program Focal Areas: Arts Education, Engagement, Outreach & Opportunity

91 150+ 500+ 10,000+ 12,000+ 1925 1980 39 300+ 150+ 60 30 $368k

Staff, Studio & Teaching Artists Artists in Annual Exhibition & Commission Programs Youth & Families in Annual Free Arts Education Programs In-Person Visitors to Annual Free Events & Programs Virtual Visitors to Annual Free Events & Programs Year Harwood Girls School Building Completed Year Harwood Building Added to National Register Dorm Rooms Converted to Artist Studios Studio Artist Alumni Apprentice Artist Alumni Percentage of Budget Devoted to Staff Compensation Percentage of Budget Devoted to Artist Wages Annual Public Programs Budget (2021-2022)

from our public programs

financial summaries & statements

by friedje vangils, founding head of school & executive director, 1981 - 2021 & kate chavez, new executive director, 2021 - present Financial reports are tools to illustrate a story; a story with depths and details almost impossible to synopsize in a short narrative. These reports give just a glimpse, a singular perspective that hints at the rich details behind the numbers. As you consider the graphs, the charts and the numerical information shared here, consider the context of one of the most amazing periods of time in our school’s history. This report to our community will forever be a reflection, an indication and a measurement of sorts. As we recount the story of the last two years, our organization’s strengths are highlighted, our core values underlined, the weave that gives our fabric durability is revealed. In June of 2020 we re-opened the Escuela campus after closing due to the global pandemic that rocked the world. Reflecting on this will always remind us of the incredibly difficult hurdles, the painful and sad times resulting from Covid, and the ways this event brought out the best in our organization as a whole. Escuela’s Covid response is something we can all be grateful for and proud of. From day one, our teachers, administrators, maintenance, Harwood and parent advisory teams pulled together to brainstorm and implement solutions to the multiple problems facing us. From the beginning of the pandemic we made a commitment to care for our employees, our students and their families while ensuring the sustainability of our organization. In true Escuela style, the whole community worked in collaboration. Our leadership received consultation and guidance from experts in our community of parents to help forge a path forward. While we had to make some difficult decisions, core values and mission drove all actions. We did temporarily furlough some employees in order to give them access to NM State support. The Board of Trustees committed to paying 100% of their health care premiums, and began in-depth financial analysis and research to find other means of support.


While families remained appreciative of these efforts, some wondered how to recoup their losses in terms of services pre-paid that the school could not provide. We gave families the option to apply for hardship support via credit toward future enrollment. For some families, however, the online offerings were not enough; they could not continue working with their kids at home, and so they had to disenroll. This, combined with the very restrictive numbers of students allowed back on campus per governmental regulation, did create a significant financial burden. We incurred losses that continue to affect the organization’s financial well-being well into 2022. Through our good banking relationships, and with our bookkeeper and admin team working very hard, we were able to access the SBA’s PPP program; this provided the funds for employee payroll through July of 2020. In the meantime, our Harwood Team found extraordinary support through grants from the city, the state and other private philanthropic sources. Again, great organization, hard work, and a commitment to sustaining our mission enabled continued services. There were certainly difficulties, as the financials will show. But with years of good financial management and solid relationships in our community, the future not only looks solid, it looks bright. Together, as a Quaranteam, we accomplished what seemed almost impossible: - Providing what our students need most: in-person learning and social interaction. - Pivoting Harwood programs, including Galleries & Exhibitions, Art Camp, and Root & Bloom to online, allowing families and community members to continue to receive the resources of our school. Looking back at a year of pandemic, the word that keeps coming to mind is GRATITUDE. Thank you for all you’ve done to keep our community safe and healthy, and thank you for your continued support and collaboration.

from our business & finance team

financial summaries & statements profit & loss comparisons, 2019 - 2021

Escuela del Sol’s Executive Director, Business Manager, and team of administrators oversee financial and program expenditures, per the annual budgets approved by our Board of Trustees. Below are our condensed Profit and Loss Statements, side by side to show changes across our pandemic fiscal years 2019-20 and 202021. For our full public financial statements, certified by our independent accountant, please see our IRS 990 filing on

A ug us t 2 01 9 J ul y 2 02 0

A ug us t 2 02 0 J ul y 2 02 1

A ug us t 2 02 0 J ul y 2 02 1

ac t u al

ac t u al

p ro j ected

$ 2,778,558.00 $ $ 319,497.00 $ 17,451.00 $ 3, 1 1 5, 506. 00

$ 1,776,267.00 $ 483,800.00 $ 278,620.00 $ 26,794.00 $ 2 , 565, 4 81 . 00

$ 2,266,586.00 $ 363,899.00 $ 368,000.00 $ 27,241.00 $ 3, 02 5, 72 6. 00

Statement o f Functi o nal E x p ens es Employee Compensation $ 2,087,741.00 Financial Aid $ 284,073.00 Occupancy $ 244,968.00 Outside Services & Fees $ 138,807.00 Administrative Costs $ 106,061.00 Program Costs $ 99,235.00 Professional Development $ 19,817.00 Covid Expenses $ 5,197.00 T o tal E x p ens e $ 2 , 985, 898. 00

$ 1,719,672.00 $ 160,893.00 $ 226,002.00 $ 86,259.00 $ 94,790.00 $ 69,028.00 $ 3,842.00 $ 21,882.00 $ 2 , 382 , 368. 00

$ 2,042,644.00 $ 194,752.00 $ 226,089.00 $ 140,975.00 $ 99,164.00 $ 75,956.00 $ 16,500.00 $ 72,791.00 $ 2 , 868, 871 . 00

Revenue & Sup p o rt Tuition & Fees Relief Grants Harwood Art Center Donations & Miscellaneous T o tal I nco me


compensation summaries

employee salary & benefit packages 2021 Escuela del Sol’s single greatest expenditure every year is our people. In 2021, 72% of our operating expenses are allocated to the educators and administrators who share their talent and dedication with our community every day. Every compensation package begins with a base salary and is then tailored to the employee and their circumstances; packages may include: - Cafeteria Plan (FSA) - Tuition Assistance - Continuing Education and Professional Development - Health and Dental Insurance (Escuela pays 60% of employee premiums) - 403b Retirement Account (Escuela matches employee contributions, up to 3% of salary)

M ed i an Bas e Sal ary Ful l -T i me Staff Toddler Lead Teacher (12 mos) Primary Lead Teacher (10/12 mos) Elementary Assistant Teacher (10 mos) Elementary - Jr High Lead Teacher (10 mos) Administrators, EDS & HAC (12 mos)

$ $ $ $ $

43,500.00 47,333.00 35,915.00 52,500.00 47,494.00

M ed i an Sal ary Pack ag e

$ $ $ $ $

50,177.00 54,284.00 42,962.00 56,402.00 55,015.00

from our business & finance team

resource & campus stewardship

fundraising & advancement updates 2019 - 2021 by emilie de angelis, board of trustees & development advisor & julia mandeville, chief programs officer When Escuela del Sol relocated to 7th Street more than 30 years ago, it was with the hope of uplifting a neglected part of Albuquerque while realizing the dream of owning our own campus. Our growth on this block of Wells Park is living proof that renewal is possible. As we see the continued revival of Downtown, Escuela and Harwood Art Center are poised to realize a campus plan that supports our highest aspirations for Albuquerque’s residents, families, and children, using the highly unique strengths that we offer. THE NATURE TO NURTURE CAMPAIGN for Escuela del Sol is the first step in realizing the comprehensive vision mapped out in our community-generated Campus Master Plan over 18 months in 2015-16. Strengthening every area of our campus, this effort plants roots for a home where education happens outside as much as inside, where the outdoors serves as a learning lab for safe exploration and environmental study. Serving as Escuela’s remarkable public outreach program, Harwood is poised to play a pivotal role in the broader civic life over the next several years: Thriving city centers matter. Innovation and cultural vibrancy matter. As we seek a brighter future for all of our citizens – one that embraces bold ideas, sensitive economic development, and young families saying “yes” to Downtown – Harwood’s creative presence can serve as a powerful and foundational centerpoint. Engaging arts lovers, local businesses, and public sources as donors, Harwood’s RIPPLE EFFECT CAMPAIGN is ensuring a sustainable future for the art center and its historic building that benefits everyone. Over the past seven years, donors have made multi-year pledges totaling $886,000 solely restricted to supporting this set of capital improvements – beginning with THE SEED FUND from 2015 - 2017 to initially engage our architects. Escuela and Harwood are deeply grateful to the early donors who have made these steps possible with us. They include the following: • • • • • •


Nora & Mike Tocci The Merza Family Fay Abrams Sam Sterling Architecture Affordable Solar 126 Individual & Family Donors to The Seed Fund (2015 - 2017, detailed in our last community report)

Escuela and Harwood’s COMPREHENSIVE CAMPUS MASTER PLAN is a living document generated by community over many years, to guide the ongoing stewardship and continued improvement of our historic campus at 7th & Mountain. Made with our partners Sam Sterling Architecture, Campoverde Architects, Spade DesignBuild, the plan envisions our campus as a sustainable green urban oasis in Downtown Albuquerque. We began phase one of the Comprehensive Campus Master Plan in the fall of 2019, centering the installation of solar panels on the Harwood building. To meet this goal, we rebuilt the original electrical system and – after discovering severe hail damage, and then completing a successful insurance claim – fully replaced the roof. After much preparation and several pandemic delays, the projects finally culminated this summer, and our solar array went up this fall. Harwood Art Center and Escuela del Sol are officially running on green energy! On Monday September 16, 2021 we flipped the switch to solar energy and celebrated across campus all day! We want to thank National Roofing and Affordable Solar for their collaboration and hard work updating our beloved building. With our architecture team from Sam Sterling Architecture and Campoverde Architects, and our contracting partners at SDV Construction, we are pursuing next steps for our next Comprehensive Campus Master Plan projects, and we look forward to updating you as more work is completed!

from our advancement team

resource & campus stewardship generative giving updates 2019 - 2021

Escuela del Sol was created through several remarkable acts of collective generosity. Our ability to thrive ever since has been only because of the many ways our community continually finds to support our mission. Our task, in honoring these expressions of deep trust, hope, and appreciation, is to make each and every dollar truly generative. That is how we see our financials and the good faith you place in us with your tuition, workshop fees, and especially philanthropic giving. • TUITION ASSISTANCE DONATIONS during the fall appeals of 2019, 2020 and 2021 in part made it possible for 44 children to receive support to attend Escuela del Sol. Today they make us and our community richer, more joyful, and more vibrant. In the future they will be alumni, leaders, and potentially EDS parents. • IN-KIND DONATIONS multiply in many ways and can have an extraordinary impact. For example, former Escuela parent and gifted organizational strategist Linh Nguyen donated crucial strategic planning services to help navigate the pandemic and recovery. Those in-kind services saved us enough operating funds to support another $4,899 towards tuition assistance. • INFRASTRUCTURE DONATIONS like Affordable Solar’s partnership on the array installation literally generates energy from photons, as well as operational savings to our annual budget. That money that we would otherwise spend on electricity can be allocated instead to invest more in our people and programs. • CAPITAL SUPPORT DONATIONS build thoughtfully planned physical spaces where we can learn, grow, and share art with the public. The gift of the future amphitheater by the Tocci family will generate a place to learn outdoors, plus a venue for our neighbors and the larger community to feel welcomed to cultural events hosted by Harwood. Broadening Harwood’s circle strengthens it, celebrates what is special about our city, and adds to the vitality of the Cultural Corridor along Mountain Road. • ESCUELA ANNUAL FUND DONATIONS support three key areas focus: (1) Tuition Assistance for our families in need, (2) Professional enrichment for continued growth and teacher support, and (3) The area of greatest need. Established in 2018, The Escuela Annual Fund has received generous contributions totalling $62,505 from 99 individual and family donors - some who’ve given every year, and all gratefully named on the following page! We are so grateful for all the ways that you support Escuela del Sol and Harwood Art Center.


resource & campus stewardship annual fund donors 2018 - 2021 Fay Abrams Maryam Ahranjani & Paul Figueroa Betsy Allen & Ron Allen Anonymous Anonymous Paola Arellano Alexis Artery & Joseph Artery Celina BearsGhost Tonia Bird Bear Lissa Blaschke & Jon Blaschke Megan Brauckmann Margarita Brito Krysta Brown Jessica Bruck & David Ottaviano Ruth Carver James Chavez & Deborah Chavez Allison Chavez Kate Chavez & Robin Holloway Jessica Chynoweth Gretchen Collins Jonathan & Ellen Craig Elora Daniels Marguerite Dastoor Emilie De Angelis & Bert Davenport Wesley Denton Elizabeth Dickson Ann Edenfield Sweet Michael Edwards Andrea Eicker Enchantment Speech Language Pathology Services, LLC Pamela Greenwood Ericksen & Jack Ericksen Laura Erway & Jeffery Erway

Elizabeth Forster Megan Friggens Matthew Gagne Norm Gagne In Memory of Harry Galewsky, Jr. Maria Geer & Rodney Geer William Geer Jennifer Gillette & Russell Morton Margaret Govoni The Hazen Family Penny Hicks David Holloway & Deborah Holloway Fadi Hosni & Andrea Hosni Cheryl Hsia & Douglas Hartman Vanessa Jacobsohn Robert Jung William Kasch Arthur Kaufman & Ellen Kaufman Will Kaufman & Rachel McCormick Maria Kelin Phillip Kruse Susan Landau Brittany Lang Dana Lester & Eric Lester Jill Levandoski Elizabeth Livingston Sarah Louderbough Jessie Lundquist-Wanker & Frank Wanker Elizabeth Marcilla Jodie Martinez Laura Matter The Mazur Patterson Family Dana McCabe Nancy McLean & Robb McLean

Seemi Merza Patricia Morton & Anthony Morton Kristina Nguyen & Linh Nguyen Misty Ortiz In Honor of Emilio Otero Jonathan Owen & Rebecca Owen Katharine Pena Susan Picco Elizabeth Radosevich & Jason Greenlee Matt Rawlings & Jerusha Rawlings Mieka Ritsema Molly Ritsema & Peter Howley Len Romano Esther Sabian & Pat Fearn Quiana Salazar-King & Nicholas Trost Stephanie Sample Allena Satpathi & Debashis Satpathi Emily Schuyler Alexandra Siek Garcia Kyle Smith Jared Tarbell & Laurie Tarbell Dana Ten Broeck Mauricio Tohen & Dianne Tohen Inga Tomlinson Friedje vanGils In Honor of Friedje vanGils John Vigil Andrea Villegas Joseph Wachter In Honor of The Weiler Family Courtney Zemsky

from our advancement team

resource & cam

resource & campus stewardship harwood art center supporters 2019 - 2021

Harwood Art Center’s ANNUAL PUBLIC PROGRAMS BUDGET represents an agile combination of grants and contracts for services, earned program income, and sponsorships and individual contributions. We are deeply grateful to our keystone funding partners for their extraordinary support (below), always and especially across the pandemics, and to our community of artists for their visionary contributions to 12x12, our annual fundraising event (following page). Albuquerque Community Foundation City of Albuquerque Small Business Relief Fund City of Albuquerque Mayor’s Office City of Albuquerque Public Art Program Kanter Kallman Foundation The FUNd at Albuquerque Community Foundation LEF Foundation McCune Charitable Foundation New Mexico Arts & National Endowment for the Arts New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps NM CARES Relief Fund Nusenda Credit Union Peggy Cavett-Walden & Professor Jarrold Walden Fund for Art & Music at Albuquerque Community Foundation PNM Resources Foundation Sandia Foundation at Albuquerque Community Foundation The Ties Fund at Albuquerque Community Foundation UETF CARES Relief Fund UETF Covid Recovery Fund UETF Urban Enhancement Trust Fund


Fay Abrams Carol L Adamec Diane Alire Lea Anderson Maude Andrade courtney angermeier Helen Atkins Joshua Atlas Joseph Paul Baca Hayden Barnard John Barney Aaron Bumgarner Aaron Bass Juliette Beck Wanda Becker Dani Belvin Jeff Benham Sam Benson Dante Betsch Randy Biggers Heather Bingham Vicki Bolen Matthew Bollinger Thomas Bowers Ivan Boyd Heather Bradley Lindsey Brenner CB Bryan Kaitlin Bryson Dana Burgy Katie Burkstaller Jordan Caldwell Caitlin Carcerano Katie Carillo Emma Casady Chris Casey M. CERTO Corie Chambers Michelle Chrisman Jill Christian Emma Lee Clarke Madelin Coit

mpus stewardship

harwood art center 12x12 artist donors 2019 - 2021 Juliana Coles Donna Loraine Contractor Christy Cook Jeanette Cook Helen Cozza Lauren Crowder Sasha Custer Colleen Davy Lauren Deyo Cheryl Dietz Emma Difani Marilyn Dillard David Disko Debi Dodge Staci Drangmeister Erin Elder Susan Finch Margaret Fitzgerald Charis Fleshner Robyn A. Frank Vincent Frazzetta Michelle Perez Fuentes Dan Fuller Matthew Fuller Moira Garcia John Garrett Jill Gatwood Cindi Gaudette Sarah Geiger Ken Gingerich Apolo Gomez Celine Gordon Jane Gordon Alison Green Jessica Gross Jonathan Guiney Thomas Christopher Haag Marianne Hall Lynnette Haozous Tanesia Hale-Jones Tytianna Harris

Rachel Harris-Huffman Danny Hart Sarah Hartshorne Matti Havens Christine Herman Christine Hernandez Florian Herrmann Sandy Hill Brian Hoden Mary Holyoke Mark Horst Michael Hudock Katherine Hunt-Monro Alejandro Jaramillo Dani Jeffries Paul Jenks Evey Jones alexis kaminsky Hunt Katherine Jessica Kennedy Agata Kijanka Harley Kirschner Marigold Kitzmiller David Koch Jean Kondek Kat Labate Wright Laurel Lampela Leigh Anne Langwell Ted Laredo David Leigh stephanie lerma Orlando Leyba Marta Light Claire Lissance Greg Lujan Madeline MacKenzie NC Magnusson Gloria Mallory Amy Mann Kimberly Fuentes Marmolejo

Terri Marsala Suzanne Marshall Adrian Martin Lila Martinez Zahra Marwan Karen Mazur Christie McAuley Madison McClintock Rachelle Mechenbier David Merriam Barbara Miller Gwen MIller Wagner Dave Minkus Hollis Moore J E Muniz Candy Nartonis Linh Nguyen Daniel Noyes Franziska Oelsner Kate Overton Miller Reyes Padilla René Palomares II Jonathan Parks Margarita Paz-Pedro Natalie Peavy Susan Pine Rachel Popowcer Jennifer Pretzeus Susie Protiva mb ramos Jackie Riccio Teresa Rice Tomas Rodriguez Maya Rogers Heidi Rogers Eric Romero Denise Weaver Ross Remy Rotenier Mariana RoumellGasteyer Elaine Roy

Danila Rumold Richard Saavedra Jocelyn Salaz Carol Sanchez Sophia Sanchez Sasha Eliza Schmid Kim Schneider Janet Shagam Barbara Shapiro Lauren Dana Smith Claude Smith lll Norah Solorzano Brooke Steiger Aaron Stromberg Mary Sweet Helen Tiefenbach Benjamin Tobias Francesca Tobias Daniel Torres Linda Mae Tratechaud Ruby Troup Jared Tso Harriette Tsosie Shawn Turung Victoria Valasco Martin Ventura Natalie Voelker Mark Weaver Denise Weaver Ross Becky Weishampel Daniel Weishampel Cedra Wood Deborah Wozniak Chelsea Wrightson Tina Yara-Nieto Justin Yazzie Frederick Yost Penelope Young Molly Zimmer Susan Zimmerman

special thanks to the hundreds of individuals & families who have purchased 12x12s or participated in our contribute-what-you-can virtual programs!

from our advancement team

reflections on generative giving

nora tocci, president of contrast inc, alumni parent, escuela-harwood donor

“In general, we want Escuela del Sol Montessori and Harwood Art Center to use our donation and involvement to help build and generate additional support for the entire 7th & Mountain Community Campus Master Plan. We would like to stress that our generosity should only be considered a starting point of something that is far from being fully realized without a lot more support. Our contribution should be viewed through the lens of a family and a small company supporting the school at the level of our ability financially, but more importantly to support a larger, grander vision for our children, our school, our community, our city, and our state. (continued >>) 34

During the first week of school, students in Ms. Cristina’s Jr. El West class discovered a beautiful green chrysalis under a table in their outdoor work space. The following Wednesday, they noticed it had become clear and they could see the butterfly’s wings. On that Friday, the monarch emerged from its cocoon, awing everyone who wandered over to peek at the newest resident of our Escuela campus.

“Building an educational foundation is everyone’s responsibility because we’re the people that intersect with it everyday. I hope our contribution can be used to fuel a true desire to make a difference and be a part of something wonderful that will give back to our children and city forever. It’s so important to remember that the size of a contribution should never be the focus, but that EVERYONE has contributed in some way. A vision as broad-reaching and aspirational as the Escuela-Harwood 7th & Mountain Community Campus Master Plan can be successful — with all of us committed and contributing the sum will always be greater than the parts because our heart was in it from the beginning to make real change happen for our children, our school, our community, our city, and our state.” - Nora Tocci, President of Contrast Inc, Alumni Parent & Escuela-Harwood Donor from our community partners

Image: Ade Cruz, Nectar Kin (excerpt), Commissioned for Encompass by Harwood Art Center

“How is your Escuela journey? Is your morning - afternoon ritual on Granite Avenue growing into a sense of community? Of family? This pandemic has yielded strange modes of engagement. But our Escuela community is strong. Three generations of the Escuela Merzas welcome you to cast your own light on Escuela.” - Seemi & Monzi Merza, on behalf of the Merza family 36

the heartbeats of escuela del sol

family letters: seemi & monzi merza

alumni, parents & collaborative thought partners When you think of community, you likely have feelings of belonging, shared values and acting together. Now think of a specific community you belong to. Are your feelings today the same as your first encounter with that community? If you’ve been a part of this community for two, ten or twenty years, you have grown and so has the community? Your engagement makes the community! In 1994, an ambitious, montessori teacher, a wife, a pregnant mother of five, interviewed with Ms. Friedje for a teaching position. Ms. Shad spoke with an accent, but her passion for child development was crystal clear. For our Mother, teaching wasn’t a job. It was a way of life. And we were all in it together. Ms. Shad’s children were her super power. She deployed us to tasks we had not seen before. From setting up class in the fall to creating progress reports to attending the student performances around the holidays - the Escuela calendar became the Mirza family calendar. And through Escuela, Mama exposed us to new values of community and accountability. And that was just the beginning… Fast forward to 2021. Two of Ms Shad’s sons have graduated from Escuela. Four grandchildren attended Escuela, one grandchild is in the toddler program today and a daughter in-law is on the Escuela board. Hundreds of Ms Shad’s students are making the world a better place in engineering, medicine, finance and the arts. Ms. Shad is in the heavens, but she’s still dishing out homework for the Ms. Shad Annual Poetry Celebration - bringing together all of Escuela during National Poetry Month. How is your Escuela journey? Is your morning - afternoon ritual on Granite Avenue growing into a sense of community? Of family? This pandemic has yielded strange modes of engagement. But our Escuela community is strong. Three generations of the Escuela Merzas welcome you to cast your own light on Escuela. How? Ask your child’s teacher, “Where can I contribute my time this month?” Or reach out to the administration and participate in Escuela’s Master Plan targets. Good news is, you don’t have to have all the answers. In our twenty seven years in the Escuela community, the Mirzas have learned - no matter the skill or capability; from entrepreneurs to chemists, from painters to political advisors, “There is an alumni, a parent or staff member for that.” Escuela del Sol is your community, your house! We invite you to Engage with the Escuela del Sol community to write the next chapter of your family’s story!

from our community partners

Happy Trails & Staff Transitions

Lisa Alessio Savanah Cole Staci Drangmeister Rita Francois Stephen Lopez Chris Loss Joy Maranze Kimberly Mendez Jonathan Rejent Lisa Slavik Guru Smith


tributes & reflections: our retired staff by friedje vangils

founding head of school & executive director, 1981 - 2021

The last two years have seen some major transitions, including changes in the life journeys of some Escuela employees who helped build our program over decades of service. These are people whose dedication, inspiration and work will forever remain at the heart of Escuela del Sol: Ms. Lisa Alessio retired this year to begin a new journey in her life. Ms. Lisa, her husband Neil, and son Seamus have been an Escuela family for many years. Seamus who grew up with us here, at Escuela, was one of our “staff kids.” Ms. Lisa began her Montessori journey at Escuela del Sol as an assistant teacher in 1989, when the school was at our Mountain Road campus. She went on to get her Montessori training in both Assistance to Infancy (toddler) and Primary (ages 3 – 6). With over three decades at Escuela, Ms. Lisa will always and forever be in the DNA of our school. One of her hallmark sayings, something that is now part of the Escuela lexicon, is “you are one of many.” Ms. Lisa always shone a light on each child’s individual gifts while reminding us all of our relationships and the importance of our entire community. This year we said “arrivederci” to Ms. Rita Francois, as she begins a new life full of journeys, including back to her homeland, Italy. She was a calm, secure, loving presence in Escuela’s toddler community for 21 years! As we reflect on the announcement of her retirement, our feelings are mixed. On one hand, she and her husband deserve the many wonderful years of travel and adventure that retirement will bring; on the other hand, oh, how we will miss her! We will always have a special place in their hearts for Ms. Rita, who helped start many children on their first school adventures. Joy Maranze was, for 26 years, one of the Montessori guides who gave many young children an introduction to life in an environment of peers, of first experiences and discoveries; the foundation of their lifelong journey of learning. Joy was the heart and soul of our Toddler Community for years. Her presence and her many lessons to us all, will stay for years to come. We always considered Joy a model, a person who knew and stayed true to her calling. Even with advanced degrees, even after law school, she knew her true joy was guiding young children. She retired in fall of 2020, leaving a lasting legacy that impacted generations of children. Escuela’s long-term Business Manager, Chris Loss, retired in the fall of 2019 after serving the organization for 20 years in various capacities. After spending time in the banking industry, Chris wanted to explore his passion for teaching. He became Escuela’s Senior Elementary guide, taking his students on many adventures, including a trip to Cape Canaveral for an in-depth look at the country’s space program. You will recognize one of his students, Ms. Shaina, as the lead guide in Toddler South! Eventually Chris returned to his career in banking …. but, after realizing he missed the school environment, he returned to Escuela as Business Manager. For decades, he wisely stewarded the organization’s finances, and we are grateful for his expertise.

for our community guides & makers

tributes & reflections: our longtime board members by friedje vangils

founding head of school & executive director, 1981 - 2021

Board of Trustees

Fay Abrams Allison Chavez Deborah Chavez Emilie De Angelis Maria Garcia Geer, Chair Seemi Merza Ann Edenfield Sweet

A Community Report such as this one is a wonderful opportunity for reflection and communication. It’s a rare gift to put both “reflection” and “expression” on the “to do” list. During this time in particular, when we are at the beginning of a new phase in the development of our school, my thoughts turn to our history as well as to our future. To contemplate the beginnings as we envision hopes for the future brings great memories and a pervasive feeling of gratitude as I think about the people who were and still are so instrumental in building the strong foundation of our school. How did we get where we are today? What makes an organization successful? How do enduring institutions get their start? Passion, heart, commitment, dedication and phrases like “inspired leadership.” are all words we use to describe our Board of Trustees. Perhaps it is not unusual to find talented, capable people to serve on the Board of a not-for-profit; certainly there are many people willing to help, to volunteer, to give of their expertise for a good cause. I do not believe, however, that there are many organizations whose foundations are built by a core group of people whose volunteer hours are measured in decades! While a good number of wonderful parents, experts in various fields, have given their time and talents to our school, I want to tell you about just three of them. These three built this school together with me; their commitment and dedication have been extraordinary. While they continue to serve on our Board of Trustees, I want to make sure their work and their influence on so many lives does not go unrecognized.

“When we have gatherings, and alums return, it’s clear that they still feel a significant bond to Escuela because it was a supportive environment to develop intellectual curiosity and fundamental skills in dealing with the universe.” - Maria Garcia Geer, Board of Trustees 40

Fay Abrams, a pillar of the arts community in New Mexico and the founder of Mariposa Gallery, served for over a decade on our Board of Trustees. Fay’s wisdom and good common sense served us well as she led, always, from her heart. A model of generative giving, her years of volunteer work were based on this core belief: “It is my conviction that arts and education should always be together.” In honor of her many contributions and on the occasion of Harwood’s 30th anniversary, we now have “The Abrams Studio at Harwood Art Center”. Fay’s support and legacy will always be at the heart of the Escuela / Harwood community. Deborah Chavez was an “employee” of the school since the early 80’s. I say “employee” because I’m not sure we were paid in those days! Nevertheless, she kept the business end of the fledgling Escuela in good shape. As the school’s first business manager, her uncommonly great common sense, amazing memory, attention to details and very high standards of quality were invaluable to the school’s ability to grow and thrive. As Treasurer of the Board, Deb has been my “go to” person for advice and direction. And, let me be clear, it’s always been a family affair for the Chavezes! Deb’s husband, James Chavez, has provided years of pro bono work through their family law firm. Deborah is a solid friend and the best “right hand woman” a school administrator could have! Maria Garcia Geer is the first person ever to serve on the Board as a “Community Member” (not as a parent of the school). In this capacity she created a model and set a standard that has become a template for Board service. Maria is a family law attorney and a partner of Geer Wissel Levy, P.A. She joined the Escuela community in 1984. Since then, Maria has been a pillar, a rock upon which we built the school. Honestly, I cannot count the number of hours Maria provided me with solid, expert and wise advice. She has been the grounding force of the Board, serving as Board Chair for over 20 years. Maria continues to guide with her quiet, firm and loving presence, keeping our organization on track, aligned to the mission while always moving in a positive direction. Ann Edenfield Sweet came to Escuela when her sons were just toddlers. In fact, she had two when the family first enrolled; the third was born practically at school! I remember a photo of Ann introducing her newborn to our students at circle time! Ann has now served on our Board of Trustees for X years. She started her own non-profit, Wings for LIFE, where her inspirational leadership has supported hundreds of families of imprisoned adults, giving them love, hope and life skills. She and her now-grown sons will, as she so often reminds me, “always be there for Escuela!”. And we are so grateful for that!

“It truly takes the village; it really takes everybody. Escuela is not just the board or a teacher or a director. It’s really the entire entity. It’s everybody working together, and everybody having that common vision.” - Ann Edenfield Sweet, Board of Trustees

for our community guides & makers

the heartbeats of escuela del sol

“It’s important for everyone to learn how to be part of a community because I think that being a good member of a community – a good citizen of your community and of your country and of the world in general – is an important skill that I want my children to have and to see modeled, not just in our home life, but in their larger school and community as well.” -Kit Sweeney, Escuela parent & Montessori alumna


our dedicated faculty & staff

meet our teams at & Toddler Guides

Shaina Brinkman Adriana Chavez Culp Jolie Guiney Fletcher Leslie Mendoza-Morales Sandra Munoz-Puga Rhian Small

Primary Guides

Monica Chavez Joslynn DeHerrera Nicole Duran Elizabeth Harris Shardae LeDouix Maria Mendoza-Morales Colette Village Center Gretchen Vogelsberg

Elementary Guides Ramon Chavez Megan Peralta-Silva Cristina Sessa Paloma Springer Ben Tobias Inga Tomlinson Sharayah Williams Sandra Munoz-Puga

Junior High Guides Tanesia Hale-Jones Jordan Hines

Studio Arts Guides (all levels)

Christy Cook Casey Mraz Jonathan Parks Emily Schuyler

Culinary Guide & Chef

Michael Chavez Liberman

Campus & Facilities Team Jonathan Guiney Jimmy Griego Joe Marcilla Jonathan Parks

Harwood Cooperative Leadership Team Helen Atkins E. Dani Belvin Jordyn Bernicke Jennifer DePaolo Julia Mandeville

Escuela Cooperative Leadership Team

Kate Chavez Carmela Chavez Liberman Elora Daniels Tanesia Hale-Jones Sarah Louderbough Elizabeth Marcilla Jodie Martinez Dana McCabe Robin Soliz Friedje vanGils

Board of Trustees

Fay Abrams Allison Chavez Deborah Chavez Emilie De Angelis Maria Garcia Geer, Chair Seemi Merza Ann Edenfield Sweet

“Every child has something to teach me. Every day is a new day.” -Emily Schuyler, Escuela Educator & Studio Arts Guide

for our community guides & makers

the heartbeats of escuela del sol

friedje vangils founding head of school & executive director escuela del sol & harwood art center, 1981 - 2021

“Friedje’s leadership brought the organization to where it is... It’s a huge generational shift for Friedje to transition away from the role of executive director, although I know she’ll continue to be available and connected to the community. She has been the lifeblood of the organization for most of its life, so today is going to be a new day.” - Maria Garcia Geer, Chair, Board of Trustees friedje, thank you for devoting so many of your days to escuela del sol and cultivating our natures to nurture. our days are not the same without you, but we love tending and blooming what you seeded, and we are forever grateful for your faith in us. happy trails!

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